Sunday, September 6, 2009

Old Friends...Sit on Their Park Bench Like Bookends

by Pa Rock
Native Son

This morning after breakfast at my Dad's favorite cafe, we drove into Southwest City and visited with my former brother-in-law, Bob Smith. Bob's mother, Lucy Smith, passed away last month. She had been a lifelong resident of the Southwest City area, and worked fifty years there at the Cornerstone Bank. They are auctioning off Lucy's estate tomorrow (Labor Day), and there should be a million or so people crowed into the yard and house. (Well, maybe not quite that many, but Lucy had lots and lots of nice things, and she knew everyone for miles around - so it will be especially crowded.)

This afternoon I have made the rounds checking in on old friends, a pleasurable and treasurable experience. My first stop was at the Noel Housing Authority to visit Mollie Carroll, one of the dearest people in the world. Mollie graduated from Noel High School a few years before me, and then headed off to New York City where she spent over three decades teaching in Catholic schools and living on the fringe of the theatre community. Her background is in English and drama, but she can speak for hours on literally any topic and do it well. She is one of the singularly most knowledgeable and caring people whom I have ever known. Mollie told me that she is working on a novel - and who better to write one!

Stop number two was to spend some time with Mertie Harmon and her housemate, George McGee. Mertie is my Dad's age, the mother of one of my classmates, and a very cherished family friend. She caught me up on more local news, and I shared stories about my children and my old girlfriend, Susan. When Susan and I lived in Noel years ago, she and Tim and I would often play cards with Mertie and George. Mertie is very alert and seemed to be well and happy. George is frail and on oxygen, but also very alert and talkative. It was good to catch up with both of them.

The third stop of the afternoon was to visit with James and Patti Carroll. James and I have been close friends since junior high school, and I have known Patti (Gough) almost that long. James works for the local post office as a mail carrier, and Patti has been a fixture at the local Methodist Day Care center for many years. Both have quietly evolved into family caretakers, carrying the weight of dealing with siblings and parents as they get older and are no longer able to care for themselves. James and Patti have two sons. Anthony lives in Springfield, MO, and manages a nice restaurant, and Ryan has been teaching in China for several years.

Tonight I may catch up with Brenda Cates Kilby, a former classmate of my sister's who has remained in this area and managed to navigate past its shortcomings. She has been a college professor, newspaper reporter, and world traveler. Brenda writes a couple of blogs and occasionally posts comments to things in the Ramble. She has a unique perspective on the world and is a very good person.

My niece, Tiffany Burke, will be here at noon tomorrow to take me to Highfill International - and my brief vacation will be at an end. I know that Scroungy Bastard will be glad to see me back in Arizona. He has had to spend the past couple of days panhandling - but, hey, he was panhandling when I met him - and he's very good at it!


Mike Box said...

I remember Mr. Carroll, his bride, and his sister. Whenever its cold I think of Jim thawing out an old Mercedes with the biggest interior I ever saw in a car. I also recall that street signs, posts and all, would make their way from near the Square in Springfield to an apartment building across the street from campus. Mr. Carroll would yank 'em out of the ground, like rotten teeth, and carry them, concrete base and all.

Seems like that apartment building was torn down, the grounds sewn with salt, with the Deans saying something about nothing ever growing there again!

I'm not sure if I'm glad to know that Jim and Patti are no longer in the movie theater business. Talk about the decline of drive-in theaters, no think about the walk-ins!

I agree with everthing you said about Miss Mollie. I hope they read your blog so I can just say Hi to them here.

Pa Rock's Ramble said...


They read the Ramble sometimes. I will endeavor to make sure that they see your comment. They are all very nice folks - as are you!

BTW: You need to pen your memoirs before that steel trap mind of yours starts to rust. Just be sure and change most of the names to protect the elderly!


Pa Rock's Ramble said...
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